These bills as written have many opponents. Bicyclists, pedestrians, trail users, and Complete Street supporters should be among them.
Here are three reasons.
Eliminates bike funding requirement
First, House Bill 5300 would transfer funding from the current Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) to the Commercial Corridor Fund (CCF) over an 8 year period. The MTF and CCF distribute funds to counties, cities, and villages. The MTF requires 1% of the funding to be spent on non-motorized facilities like bike lanes and sidewalks. The CCF has no such requirement.
So rather than remove the 1% requirement in law, legislators are simply creating a new fund without the requirement and shifting the money. We’re not sure how intentional this change was, but it has been a long standing goal of the County Road Association of Michigan to remove this requirement.
Increases funding for sprawl
The current road funding is generally distributed based on the miles of roads. House Bill 5303 would change that to distribute funding based on motor vehicle miles traveled or VMT.
Counties and cities that require people to drive more and longer distances will be rewarded. There will be a financial disincentive for counties and cities to promote public transit, biking and walking as they’ll receive less money.
Forecasts from MDOT show the city of Detroit would see some devastating funding cuts as a result. Even if the fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees are raised significantly, the City will still lose 8% of their road funding. And since those tax and fee increases may not even occur, the loss will be even greater. The City has already testified against this change.
Ironically enough, the bill’s sponsor is former City Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi.
Granted this is the weaker of the three sins, but it deserves a mention for its sheer stupidity.
House Bills 5301 and 5302 require counties, cities, and villages to time traffic lights but not for the speed limit. On a road that has enough speeding cars, this legislation requires road agencies to time the traffic lights for them, which will likely induce more speeding.
We’ve already heard of MDOT doing this on a local state trunkline. Now this practice will be enshrined in law.
These bills have been out for more than a couple months now. We can’t afford to keep sitting on the sidelines.
With ever rising fuel prices and increasing public interest in Complete Streets, it is unacceptable that we change road funding that takes us back to the 1970s mind set.